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Top News Links: Wednesday, Oct. 8

New Army contracts granted despite probe

The Army has awarded $80 million in helicopter contracts to Wall Street executive Lynn Tilton even as the Justice Department investigates her companies. The Associated Press reported in March that Tilton and Bert Vergez, a retired colonel who ran an Army acquisition office in Huntsville, were in unusually close contact for more than a year before Vergez retired from military service in late 2012. Three months later, he was working for Tilton. – AP/News Courier

Lots of cool toys at Birmingham conference

CipherLab USA will showcase its RF Gun Scanners at the 2014 Southern Automotive Conference at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, which opens today. The scanner utilizes a laser, 2D imager, extended range laser and near/far 2D imager. – Virtual Strategy

Farmers skipping cotton for other crops

Only a few years ago it was common to drive around in October and see fields of white cotton bolls as far as the eye can see. The fields, of course, are still there, but where has all the cotton gone? The short answer: farmers have made way for soybeans, winter wheat and corn. – AL.com

New debate: How much tech in schools?

The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school in Los Altos, California. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard. There isn’t a computer in the place, and they even frown on student using computers at home. – New York Times

Cattlemen agree: Conestoga is tops

There’s really only one way to ensure you’re getting a good steak, according to Conestoga Steakhouse owner Ted Toole. Start with quality meat. Toole’s Dothan steakhouse was named the winner of Alabama’s Best Steak contest held by the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association. – Dothan Eagle

Walmart dropping benefits for some

Walmart announced Tuesday that it plans to end health care benefits for 30,000 part-time employees and hike premiums for other employees beginning after the first of the year. According to an AP story, the nation's largest employer will cut the benefits for employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week. – AP/AL.com

No longer Tacky on Causeway

With its property lease ending, officials with The Fun Concept LLC, which operates four Tacky Jacks Bar & Grills, has decided to close its Causeway location near the line between Mobile and Baldwin counties. “We've enjoyed four great years here,” said Ken Kichler, CFO, “but the facilities would require significant improvements for us to offer the type of quality atmosphere found at our other three restaurants. Tacky Jacks are also located in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan. WKRG

Fairhope Brewing plans expansion

Fairhope Brewing Company located in Fairhope has announced an expansion to their current brewing facility. The Fairhope Industrial Development Board approved tax abatements last week for the company to assist in their investments and growth. Fairhope Brewing Company anticipates hiring at least five new hires over the next three years in Fairhope due to this expansion. – Gulf Coast News

Selma war correspondent remembered

He may not have been dashing like Clark Gable, but Selma's Eddy Gilmore became a superstar in his own right as a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent. Gilmore was a short, pudgy Associated Press reporter who didn't look anything like Gable or actor Joel McCrea, the handsome star of Alfred Hitchcock's classic "Foreign Correspondent." But his life spawned at least one memorable film. – Montgomery Advertiser

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